Bike building: On frame materials and bamboo

I’m still in the process of writing an article about my current bike (Insera Reflex Evo) but that bike was bought for three things: Short sprints in the city, cheap price so I won’t be super bummed (again) when someone steals my bike and the third was that there was a bike shop literally across the street where we used to live. Now, that I actually have room to store a bike, I use it daily in everything and the kilometers have multiplied several times – I’ll want to get a better bike soon. The current bike is really, really heavy and the parts in it are not the best available (Deore LX) and with my kind of use they tend to suffer too much.

Having many hard core biking friends around, I’ve asked recommendations from them on what kind of bike should I get and the first topic of discussion is always about the frame. I don’t really give a damn about brands or hydroforming or such, what I want is something that will be good for me and last at least the 5 years I want it to last. I’m a big guy (around 195cm and 115 kilos) and my driving style isn’t actually based on granny’s on tranquilizers.

Sheldon Brown wrote a very long in-depth article about bike frame materials on his site. I read most of it, but in the end there’s no clear difference in them. Some materials are lighter, so you can put more of them to get the same stiffness and strength than others. Many people have told me to get a steel frame, some people say that aluminum is just as good. I think this is the similar kind of discussion as Macs and PCs have on a daily basis.

Anyway, my search will continue, but I did come up with a bamboo frame that I’ve actually seen in use, and I think it’s pretty cool.

In Asia they even build scaffoldings from bamboo

I’m pretty sure bamboo is not the best option for Finnish bikers due to the weather. Does anyone have any experience on bamboo frames or does any manufacturer mass produce them? Are they different from the other materials? Does it taste like chicken?

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By Markus Sandelin

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.